Tuesday June 26, 2012: Stage Four

words & photographs by John R. Paul

After a night spent working to fix the clutch and the steering column, Casey and Hagerty mechanic Tony rose early to seek out a machine shop to fix the shifter stud within the column in an attempt to get Miss Adventure back on the road. Thankfully, ABA Machine & Welding in Barrie was able to oblige, helping get Team HVA back on the road, albeit on a day during which we were forced to sit out the actual race itself due to the persistent troubles facing the car. 

It was instead decided it would be for the best to simply drive the route from Barrie to Ottawa with Carmel driving and Tim navigating, while the remainder of Team HVA piled into the promotional vehicle, updating social media, uploading photographs from the past several days, and generally getting caught up on the tasks at hand following a night spent catching up on sleep. While we were all slightly disappointed to be out of the race for the day, we were glad to get the car back up and running as we eased our way north and east toward our evening’s destination.

Rather than heading south and east as suggested by the GPS, we instead opted to take a more scenic, rural route through the wilds of northeast Ontario. We were again greeted by seemingly thousands of lakes, rich green forests, rugged rock outcroppings, and gently rolling hills. The only difference today was that, for most of the route, Miss Adventure was the only classic vehicle we saw along the way. That is until we found ourselves again in a fix with the car, this time in Bancroft, Ontario.

For the third day in a row, Team HVA was treated to true northern hospitality from our gracious Canadian hosts. While broken down in Bancroft, Miss Adventure attracted the attention of two gentlemen cruising by in a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air. Little did we know, we were about to meet two of the most genuinely sincere, friendly and hospitable folks we’ve encountered thus far on this amazing journey. 

With Casey working under the car to try and address the issue with the clutch, Conrad Brownston and his friend (whose name I unfortunately did not catch) parked across the street, strolled over and offered their assistance. Following a quick explanation of the trouble with which we were faced, Conrad informed us he had restored a number of vehicles and had a lift at his home just up the road should we wish to utilize it. While there was not a specific need for the lift, his generous offer and hospitality was a warm welcome following yet another day spent working on and under Miss Adventure. 

He then topped it by running home in his Bel Air to grab several different sized clutch discs, offering their use to get Miss Adventure back on the road. When he returned, he rolled up in his brown 1968 Buick Electra 225, one of several cars he said he currently had up in his barn. The clutch discs were unfortunately not the right size, but this was of little concern to Conrad as he was quickly on the phone with another car guy friend in town who had a number of parts, some of which could potentially remedy our current stranded situation.

Abandoning any attempt to cure Miss Adventure’s inoperable condition (and with Hagerty Plus roadside assistance on the way), we quickly shifted gears and began talking with Conrad about his cars, specifically his Buick, and what brought him into the hobby. From a young age, Conrad’s father liked to say that Conrad had been born with a wrench in his hand. Owning a number of cars over the years, he had done all of the work himself, often restoring several vehicles simultaneously. We then captured his story for a future installment of our recently launched This Car Matters curated videos.

He then regaled us with story after story about the cars he had owned, the different jobs he has held and the importance of his tee-totaling lifestyle. Finally, the coveted offer of a ride in the gorgeous Buick was extended and promptly and enthusiastically accepted by Tim, Casey and myself. 

Rolling through Bancroft, it seemed Conrad knew everyone in town and everyone knew him, extending a wave, smile and friendly “hello”. With the top down, we sailed through the golden light of late afternoon, surrounded by sheer cliff faces, and treated to additional stories involving the Oak Ridge Boys (he knew most all of them, had promoted them and even hunted with them on occasion), transporting eight boxes of records from Nashville to his home in Bancroft (he was stopped by customs and told he would have to wait a day to declare the records due to the sheer volume in his trunk, however when the customs supervisor found out he was from Bancroft he immediately softened, started talking fishing and explained he had a vacation spot up that way; Conrad was sent on his way with a smile and a wave, paying only the duty on one of the boxes), and his younger years (including the many jobs he had held and adventures he had gone on).

Cruising along, Conrad pulled into the local Tim Hortons where he again, of course, knew everyone there and was quick with a joke and a smile. Coffees in hand (and wrecked back at the car), we quickly loaded into the Buick once more, returning to our cars in a euphoric high, the result of the continued generosity and sincere hospitality we have experienced here in Canada. While we may have been out of the Great Race for today, we have experienced a number of other victories along the way, all of which have resulted in memories that will last a lifetime. Our only regret the inability to honor Conrad’s wish of getting the chance to drive an Olds (though he did get to sit in it to steer it onto the wrecker).

Top Five Things We Learned Today:

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, name your car Miss Adventure. Really, you’re just asking for trouble.
  2. While truly and sincerely generous and friendly, Canadians sure are weird when it comes to food. I mean, ketchup chips? Those were probably the most disgusting things any of us have ever had. Blech.
  3. A winding drive through the countryside, taking the time to meet with the locals, can lead to amazing experiences.
  4. There are still towns in which you can literally know everyone and everyone knows you.
  5. Casey liked tofu and the myriad other new experiences he has had as part of this trip and his summer internship.
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2 thoughts on “Tuesday June 26, 2012: Stage Four

  1. Cathy Maxon says:

    Sounds like there is a lot more to this Great Race than the race!

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